SHOP owners along Rezende Street, between Robert Mugabe Road and Charter Road are up in arms with the Harare City Council for failing to relocate an illegal flea market that has sprouted right in front of their businesses.
Fears of a disease outbreak are now abound as the area does not have ablution facilities to cater for the over 100 operators who have invaded the small space since October.
“We have approached the city fathers countless times for an update and clarification on what is being done because our businesses are being affected,” said one shop owner who declined to be named.
In a letter addressed to town clerk Tendai Mahachi and copied to Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni, the shop owners said not only was this affecting their businesses but it was a health time bomb.
“We would like to advise you that our businesses have and are still being greatly affected and importantly health wise. We are forced to tolerate the bad smell and general unhygienic of the vendors urinating on the pavements or side of the road,” the letter reads.
The businesspeople also said they had written to the council objecting to the flea market in October and were referred to a series of other offices, but nothing had materialised.
The vendors in question said they paid their dues to some tough-looking men whom they only referred to as madzibaba.
“We do not have a fixed daily fee. We don’t really know how much we are supposed to pay. It all depends on madzibaba,” one female vendor said.
On being approached, one of the said madzibaba became very aggressive and refused to say how much they were charging and on whose authority.
Harare principal communications officer Michael Chideme said the city fathers were currently engaged in talks with stakeholders to map the way forward.
“Our policy has always been clear. We are saying any illegal vendors should move to the designated areas. While we realise the important role of the informal sector, we implore them to co-operate with us in relocating them,” he said.
Chideme said all efforts would be done to convince the vendors to move and keep the city tidy and orderly.
Last month, the city launched an operation dubbed Bumha Tsvina, Guta Ngarichene, a multi-pronged approach in addressing illegal vending and the infamous running battles between commuter omnibus who pick up passengers from undesignated pick up points.
The council so far has designated nine vending sites, accommodating up to 1 000 vendors, with six more sites having been approved.
However, the vendors have resisted going to the sites saying they were not catchy enough and they would lose business.
Illegal vending has remained an eyesore and with current harsh economic environment, many people have resorted to the trade to fend for their families.